When you are planning on travelling to Phuket, you will discover endless fun activities for you and your family to do. You can explore the vibrant night markets, sunbathe on the beautiful beaches, indulge at the delicious restaurants, or even partake in some local day trip excursions. But one thing you can’t pass up on your vacation is a trip to the famous Similan Islands.
The Similan Islands originally consisted of only nine islands as the word “Similan” means nine in Malay. But in 1998, they decide to expand and add two more islands for tourists to visit and explore; Ko Tachai and Ko Bon. Usually, travellers can only see about two or three islands on a trip, consisting of the two main islands; Ko Miang and Ko Similan. But whichever island you choose to go to surely will not be disappointed as they are all beautifully untouched.
How do you get to Similan Islands?
The Similan Islands are an archipelago (a group of islands) in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Phang-Nga. The most popular way to get from Phuket is via minivan to Khao Lak which takes around two hours then jump on a speedboat to the Similan Islands which takes around one and a half hours depending on the sea conditions at the time. The Similan Islands are known for being isolated, having plenty of raw nature and wildlife, and the giant boulders that lay all over the tropical beaches. They are also said to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations in all of Thailand.
There are lots of different activities to do on the Similan Islands. Many people like to snorkel in the crystal clear waters to observe the stunning sea creatures and colourful coral. There are many different fish and sea creatures that you may see while exploring the ocean, such as lionfish, clownfish, stingrays, and even whale sharks! Additionally, you will see plenty of coral as well.
There isn’t as much as there used to be due to excessive bleaching in 2010. Bleaching coral is caused by the water being too warm, and the coral expels the essential algae that grow on the coral, turning white and eventually dies. Slowly but surely, the coral has finally begun to come back, but the locals will make sure to let you know to be careful not to damage it and admire its beauty from afar. The underwater world has had a fantastic break from tourism and boat traffic over the last eighteen months due to the Covid outbreak.
Another widespread activity to do when visiting the Similan Islands is scuba diving. Many people say that the Similan Islands has the best scuba diving in the world. There are numerous areas all over the islands that are great for diving, such as Christmas Point, Elephant Head Rock, Donald Duck Bay, and Shark Fin Reef and Boulder City.
Some other popular activities include going out on a speed boat, climbing the giant boulders, and relaxing on the beach. Many people also love to come to the islands to take pictures of scenery, the wildlife, and the underwater environment. There are also various tours you can book that include exploring multiple islands and delicious meals made by your tour guide.
Wildlife preservation is a significant component that is extremely important for the Thai Government on the Similan Islands. Three of the 11 islands, Ko Huyong, Ko Payang, and Ko Payan, are all strictly closed to the public. This is because these islands are strictly for the turtle hatching program and reef conservation.
There are also some vulnerable species of birds like the pale-capped pigeons and other animals that reside there. Fishing is also banned on the Similan Islands to protect the numerous species of exotic fish and sea animals. But there are still people who choose to fish on the islands illegally, so while you’re there, you may see some fishing boats, or if you go diving, you may see some old fishing nets or fishing traps stuck on the coral reefs.
Can you stay on Similan Islands?
As far as accommodation in the Similan Islands, it is relatively limited. There are no hotels anywhere on any of the islands, but there are some bungalows that you can rent out. Ko Miang is the only island with bungalows, and there are only 35, so it is better to book in advance. You can choose to stay in the fancier ones with the luxury of space and air conditioning; those cost about 2000 baht per night.
Where should I stay in Similan Islands?
The other option is a little more simplistic, but it is half the price, so it might be a better option if you are on a budget. You also have the opportunity to stay at one of the campsites in a tent. Ko Miang, Ko Similan, and Ko Tachai all have campsites that offer 2-3 people tents available for about 500 baht per night, which is the most budget-friendly choice. Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience camping on a gorgeous beach with their friends and loved ones?
The Similan Islands are under a Thai law that doesn’t allow large construction projects to occur on the islands; this is why there are no hotels, only one restaurant, and the structures are all very basic. But some people choose to stay nearby in Khao Lak, the mainland. There are multiple hotels to choose from there, plenty of delicious restaurants to eat at, and more fun activities to do. Plus, when you want to go back to the islands, some boats can take you right from Khao Lak.
Although there are so many activities, trips, and tours to choose from when visiting Phuket, make sure you make an effort to see the Similan Islands. The islands are the perfect destination for everyone because there is something to do that will interest every person. If snorkelling or scuba diving is something you enjoy, then there are numerous gorgeous diving spots to choose from.
If you like to explore nature, hike, or take pictures, there is plenty of foliage and jungle for you to venture into. If you prefer to just relax on the beach and admire the beauty, that’s great too! Each island has a beautiful beach with warm, white sand. The islands’ natural beauty will leave you in awe and create memories in your mind that you will never forget.
Are Similan Islands open?
The Similan Islands are a National Marine Park of Thailand and are open for scuba divers, snorkelers and sightseers between October 15th and May 15th each year – between these dates the park is completely closed.
How far are the Similan Islands from Phuket?
They are approximately 85 kilometres from Phuket, and they are accessible by boat from either Phuket or Khao Lak.
How long does it take to get to Similan Islands from Phuket?
The quickest way is via a minivan from Phuket and a speedboat from Khao Lak to the Similan Islands. The journey will last around 3 – 3.5 hours each way.